a suitable boy... (or a girl)

#1 May 7th, 2004, 18:24
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Jan 2004
Hong Kong
  • volga_volga is offline
Arranged marriage... I wonder what do you think of that. Especially would love to hear from our Indian friends.

After some time in India I learnt not to ask "was your marriage an arranged marriage". Instead, I was asking "did you meet through your parents?" Meeting an Indian who has met his or her spouse NOT via family was an exception. I went to a wedding where the groom had known his bride for less than a month, and when I asked whether he was happy to be getting married, his future brother in law said: "he always knew that one day he'd have to do it".

But only when it happens to people that I know well I start saying - how strange... A collegue of mine got back from a honeymoon in Kerala and it stoke me that he has spent a week on a houseboat with someone he hardly knew. It didn't seem strange to him (take note those who are reading Travelling alone is best thread).

Once in a while I would come across an article that tells a girl what questions she should be asking during her first date with a prospective partner suggested by her family. Questions like "does he snore"? not something that I would ask a guy when I meet him for the first time...

I think that the institution of Arranged Marriage is there to kill love... love as the insane, impulsive, uncontrollable love, not something that is developed between the two individuals after they get married. Interesting, some westerners believe that marriage kills love...

I'm getting dangerously close to my 500th post and I was planning to stop there, at least for a while. but before I do that I had to ask this question that I've wanted to ask you for a long time.

Does love exist in India outside Bollywood movies?
Last edited by volga_volga; May 8th, 2004 at 00:31..
#2 May 7th, 2004, 20:45
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India !
  • beach is offline
[q]Does love exist in India outside Bollywood movies? [/q]

Yes. Very much!. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the 1billion plus people over here!!.

Two hitherto unknown people are pushed into a houseboat and the relatives declare, “Your honeymoon starts now!”. No. It’s not exactly like that. Arranged marriages have got arrangements within. Indian society doesn’t view marriage as the agreement between two individuals. It’s more of an association of two families. Many relations are tied, not just the husband and wife.

Probably once upon a time it was the exclusive job of the parents to find matches for their sons and daughters. The bride and groom’s relatives discuss and finalize the proposal and the decision was not meant to be contested.

Time has changed and so the process of arranged marriages. Both love marriage & arranged marriage exists in India. Probably the later is much more predominant.

In the former one we love first and do the arrangements later. In the second case arrangements are done prior to love! Yes. It’s literally like that.

Any one can bring a proposal to the parents…. a neighbor, a colleague, a friend, a relative…literally any one can walk in to the house of a prospective bride or groom.

People look for many things like the financial background, qualifications, family status, religion, caste, physical data, age, horoscope etc. Different families give different priorities to all these factors. If things are broadly falling in line people proceed ‘further’. Generally the prospective bride and groom are 'involved' and also have the say and the ‘veto’ power.

There are arrangements made to meet the prospective partners. Depends upon the social class and status this happens from a highly formal to casual way. If things are not fine people say “we will let you know”, means we are not interested!

99% of the marriages happen within the same religious groups so are the caste. Inter cast marriage is considered a bit unnatural.

How do my parents know what kind of person I like to marry?

Mom comes to me tactfully. I know that there is a photo and a bio data in her hand (she always hides it behind!).

“A very good proposal has come” she starts her salesman talk. And explain why this is better than the other one shown yesterday (which she said ‘the best’ yesterday!).

“Everything is matching” she declares. I act not much interested. But listens and read between the lines.

Slowly she pulls a photo out of the envelope. The cover contains a few more papers. A one-page bio data and a horoscope chart.

I hate this bloody chart. This one single piece of paper can eliminate an otherwise fine proposal. It looks like a small chessboard like boxes with the positions of planets at my time of birth. I call this “horror scope” chart!
I’ve nothing to do with the chart give the chart back. Looks at the photo. Goes through the bio data. “Yes this sound interesting, “ declares myself. Mom’s face brightness.

She has crossed one hurdle!

“Shall I call their parents here” she wants me to commit.

“What about the horoscope matching? ” I want to slip like a fish.

“I’ve already got it verified with the astrologer. He said its a ‘very good’ match” she corners me.

The parents come to my home. Questions me . It starts with “from which college did you pass ?” .I says the collage. “Which year?”. I replies.

My prospective mother-in-law says her eldest brother’s youngest daughter also studied at the same college.

“Do you know her?”


“The math lecturer at your collage is our neighbor ” she reveals the ‘secret’ as if to threaten me.

“Yes. He taught me at the seventh semester. You can ask him about me” I act confident.

“How much is your salary” future father in law’s question.

“It’s a decent pay” I show that I didn’t like the question.

And the interrogation by the would be in laws continues for about an hour.

About three times in-between mom reminds them to have the tea. It’s already gone cold.

I know they’ll never drink it until they are satisfied. And finally they release my neck! And lifts the tea cup, means they are interested in proceeding further.

“When are you planning to come to come to our home” he extents an invitation.

We are supposed to do the same at their home. Interrogating their daughter!!

“You come and see my daughter. She is a very simple girl” he switches on the salesman gear.

“We will come sometimes next week” mom jumps in and confirms.

----------End of part one ------------
#3 May 7th, 2004, 20:50
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Reading, Ma
  • jay_m_222 is offline
I have seen arranged marriages work. My brother-in-law and a good friend from work both met their wives through their parents. Arranged marriage doesn't kill love, it can blossom from it. But no sparks.....any marriage is DOA.

I am sure it fails as well, just like plenty of marriages in the west. But I do think that the Indian culture holds the sacrament of marriage in much higher regard. In the west we jump into it and out of it so easily it can lose all value. In the west it is crucial to fall madly in love for a marriage to have a good chance. But if you are with the right person, the marriage does not take work......being in love is not labor intensive!

Bollywood does love to make an arranged marriage the hurdle that the two true lovers have to overcome......obviously it strikes a nerve or they wouldn't keep using it.
#4 May 8th, 2004, 00:17
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  • Merchant is offline
Everyone forgets that this practice, though somewhat less formal and cermonialized, is common everywhere--including the United States a generation or two ago. How many of our parents or grandparents married via family alliances or for business, religious, or society-climbing purposes? How many of our great aunts want nothing more than to play the matchmaker?

The scenario of two isolated individuals, drawn together merely via romantic love, is a comparatively new phenomenon.

And still today, even in our liberated society in the West, many Catholics still feel compelled to marry Catholics (and even to make finer distinctions--there aren't terribly many Irish/Italian weddings in New York), Jews marry Jews, and Episcopalians marry Jews.

Family and ethnic backgrounds, religious traditions, level of education, professional and societal aspirations--these forces still impact marriage in significant ways. It's still true that most people end up marrying people with similar backgrounds--in India, the United States, and everywhere else. We just don't call this stuff "caste," but we are guided by it more often than we realize.
#5 May 8th, 2004, 02:29
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Middle East <---->India
  • pooch is offline
Give us part two already, beach
#6 May 8th, 2004, 04:01
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Land that shakes and bakes.
  • edwardseco is offline
I was just getting into this..
#7 May 8th, 2004, 09:10
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  • SHIMLA is offline

Re: a suitable boy... (or girl)

Originally posted by volga_volga
Arranged marriage...

I think that the institution of Arranged Marriage is there to kill love... love as the insane, impulsive, uncontrollable love, not something that is developed between the two individuals after they get married. Interesting, some westerners believe that marriage kills love...

Does love exist in India outside Bollywood movies?
An arranged marriage does not kill love. On the contrary, love between the partners increases more often than not, after the marriage. I feel it is this love, which develops slowly, that lasts a lifetime, rather than impulsive love, which more often than not, is infatuation. As someone has said, "Love is blind, marriage is an eye-opener" !

In an arranged marriage, the prospective bride and groom are given full opportunity to understand each other, the marriage is not thrust upon either!

Ultimately, any marriage, whether love or arranged, calls for a lot of adjustment on the parts of the bride and the groom.

[q]Does love exist in India outside Bollywood movies?

Yes. Very much!. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the 1billion plus people over here!!.[/q]

Not really, beach !
If love alone could increase the population, then so many couples would not remain childless and prostitutes would never have undesired children !
Whoever said money can't buy happiness didn't know where to shop !
#8 May 8th, 2004, 11:08
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Mar 2004
  • jesta is offline
what if they stopped doing arranged marriages in india
what do you think would change
would women be treated differently
do you think the mariage rate would fall causing the population to drop in numbers?
#9 May 8th, 2004, 12:24
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  • DianeN. is offline
The concept that most western people have of "love" today is fueled by Hollywood movies and television. Romantic love is a new notion, and though it is very nice....it may last only as long as the passion exists. Thus, many many marriages end in divorce...because the passion that made them fall in love in the beginning may disappear. Passion can quickly evaporate if there is no substance to the relationship. Step-by-step relationship building and repair that is necessary to endure living with someone for twenty, thirty, fifty years is what is necessary to make a successful marriage. THAT plus PASSION can equal a fine marriage.

Sometimes I'm surprised at how calculated Japanese women are when talking about future husbands (I teach at a women's university so I hear a lot of discussion on this subject from my students). They want love, of course, but there are many other practical considerations they consider more important: jobs, family background, educational background, temperment, etc. Romantic love is fine for boyfriends, but not necessarily what they want in a husband. But when you think of it, all these things are important.

I don't know that much about India, but it seems to me the descriptions of arranged marriages made earlier in the thread seem to apply to those of a certain class. From what I understand, Rajasthan is still very tradition orientated when it comes to arranging marriage--and child marriage, though illegal is not unheard of. The more educated and wealthy and cosmopolitan the two young people are, the more choices they probably are allowed in chosing their life partner. But I guess in the villages arranged marriages are the norm.

My friend was telling me about her former servant who went back to the village to attend his brother's wedding. Well, something happened that the brother couldn't marry the intended girl....the family was in a quandry over what to do (had to save the family's face)---so they ended up switching grooms and my friends' servant transformed from brother of the groom to the groom within a day. Needless to say, my friend was astonished when the boy came back to work for her he was married, and a baby was born about ten months later.
#10 May 8th, 2004, 14:53
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Apr 2004
  • sudheer poppa is offline

Thumbs up An Indian Love story - Real one !!!

Bravo a post Volga!

Here's my bit on a Real Indian love story.

Boy (19) and girl (16) meets through penpal advt.

Two years of glorious dating. But government set marriage age is 21 for boy and 18 for girl.

So the day after the 18th birthday of the girl, boy and girl with some friends, go to the government office for marriage registration.

Well !! The registrar refuses and sents them back ( so unromantic ). But within a couple of months, a Rs 2,000 baksheesh sees them married. Parents are completly out of the loop here.

Few weeks after the marriage, boy goes and gets permission from girl's mother, to sent the girl to a different town for studies. Three months after the marriage, they leave to another town - Boy's parents think that he is going to search for a job (relieved that he is leaving the town and his girlfreind behind ), Girl's parents assume that she is going for higher studies.

Six months later, Girl's mother gets to know that they (boy and girl) are married, but she readily accepts .

One year later, Boy's parents get to know that they are married ( by a phone call from Girl revealing the truth). They keep BIG conditions for accepting the Girl into their family to which Girl happily nods her head. (anything for the boy's parents to be happy)

Two years later, they are blessed with a baby girl. (thats the Indian way of saying it !)

When the baby girl is 10 months old, Girl's father get to know that -
a) His daughter is in love with a guy
b) She is married to that guy
c) They have a child of 10 months age....

With not many options at his disposal, he too accepts the marriage and rushed to play with his grand daughter.

So the entire family accepted the marriage and the Boy and Girl ( and their little girl) lived happily ever after - hopefully !!!

An exception! For sure, but things that happen in India!
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools - MLK
#11 May 8th, 2004, 15:14
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  • beach is offline
Well what class of Indian society are we talking about?

The approaches of various classes are considerably different even though customs are comparable. The higher end society is already modern and the lower end still orthodox to a large extend. The massive middle section is in the dilemma. They do not want to abandon all the customs but still wants to be more practical. I’m addressing this section for the convenience. Majority of the people come to the IM I feel fall in this category.

What DianeN said is true to the average Indian people also. “Love marriage Vs Arranged marriage” is a favorite debate subject in our colleges. All the girls argue for the AM (to show that they are homely! ) and boys for LM (to show that they are courageous!).

But for all practical cases people take a middle of the road approach. People prefer their parents’ involvement in selecting life partner. And there used to be arguments and compromises. In most of the cases a proposal is dropped because one in the family have a major concern. “We will try another one” is a common sound radiate from an average middle class home! This is one point everyone agrees without much of hassle.

Boys and girls do search themselves for their prospective life partners. People do romance also. The concept of dating is a taboo in the society. Those who do it are a bit secretive in their approach. It’s a bit embarrassing when parents find it. People lose face. But when it comes to marriage people want the parents’ consent. They look for much more practical things than the simple ‘like’ factor.

Someone said, a successful man is the one who earns more than his wife can spend. And a successful woman is one who finds such a husband! People do understand this factor in the marriage.

Brain X beauty X Availability = Constant, is the axiom in the marriage scenario also.
#12 May 8th, 2004, 15:23
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  • sudheer poppa is offline

And thougths on arranged marriage.

My exposure is to the lower to upper middle class strata of society which is fairly mobile. Happenings go this way from the youngsters side. Normally when a guy or girl meets a new person, at work or online or even at a boarding college, one of the first information they would be looking at is the family background or more specificaly where this person is from (socialy). Once this information is mapped to the acceptability limits of their parents, then further observations cum getting to know each other better steps are ventured into. And after all the tests and checks, once they are in love, time comes for informing the parents of the romantic interest. Its normally easier done at the guys house, from where a formal proposal moves to the girl's house if the boy succeeds in convincing the parents. Again depends on which family is more conservative. But this course of action is fairly accepted in the south.

From the parents side, when they start looking for alliances, almost always they check with their offspring on if they have by themselves thought of anyone. ( a discreet way of asking "are you seeing anyone ?") Incase they find a positive answer, then comes tests from their own scanner and if acceptable, they move a formal proposal to the other persons family.

A decade back, the thought of one's ready to marry child having a love relation was fairly unacceptable in most part of India. But now with satelite television and indian soaps, Love is fairly being accepted as a fact of life and something normal.

Funny how much more influence TV soaps have on the middle class mindset as against the blown up world of Bollywood.
#13 May 9th, 2004, 22:32
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  • volga_volga is offline

Marriage isn't for everybody

So what if this is my 500th post? damn it! What if I have a lot to say? [that’s me principally talking to myself]

Where the institution of the Arranged Marriage and I differ greatly in opinions is that Indian society thinks that EVERYONE MUST get married one day. That an unmarried person is incomplete (“grammatical mistake” – beach). That if someone is unmarried by a certain age then there is something wrong with him or her.

I say – we are free to decide if we want to be married or not. If I meet someone that I may want to marry (and it is reciprocal), let it be. If not, let it be too. I will still respect my unmarried self to no lesser a degree.

Some individual comments:

To a large extent, overpopulation is due to inadequate family planning facilities and low literacy among girls. “Indian society doesn’t view marriage as the agreement between two individuals. It’s more of an association of two families.” Exactly. And there is nothing romantic in this “family business”.

“Brain X beauty X Availability = Constant, is the axiom in the marriage scenario also.” That is a very cynical view, beach, I hope you were joking.

“I do think that the Indian culture holds the sacrament of marriage in much higher regard.” Is it sacrament of marriage or protection of family interests?

I am really glad I live now and not a generation or two ago. “It's still true that most people end up marrying people with similar backgrounds--in India, the United States, and everywhere else.” Can’t say anything to that. Only that looks like I will stay single forever, I don’t think there is anyone out there with a background even remotely close to mine.

Huge thanks for the story. The good old exception that proves the rule

#14 May 10th, 2004, 00:48
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  • lobo is offline
Different cultures colide and when they do we are left with questions.

How important is tradition? How hard is it to go against it? I think that its down to the individuals and its hard from someone outside of the culture to offer opinions but heres mine!!

An arranged marriage can work, but it seems a very big gamble to me, to choose a life partner that you do not know.

Maybe we need to go to the begining and ask why and when did arranged marriages start? Was it to ensure people married at the same "level/caste" in society?
Was it economic reasons?

What problems has it caused?

loveless marriages or even the strain of marriage dowrys (if u have a girl) or the mysterious deaths of indian women after the dowry has been paid over, I think the "arranged marriages" seem to favour the man in indian society.

Still , times change.
#15 May 10th, 2004, 07:40
albaruni Future Member
I think marriage is an institution...and who wants to live in an institution ?!

The elephant in the room is sex, when discussing arranged(or not) marriages.

While some society (of some sort) lets you into its portals of respectability if you get married, it demands a price.

The question is: are you willing to pay it...

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